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Warsaw threatens 'further action' if Belarus 'continues to persecute Poles'

14.02.2023 08:00
Poland's interior minister has said that if Belarus "continues to take repressive measures" against Poles living in that country, Poland will respond with "further action" after closing a border crossing last week. 
Polands Interior Minister Mariusz Kamiński.
Poland's Interior Minister Mariusz Kamiński. PAP/Tomasz Gzell

Mariusz Kamiński made the statement in a media interview on Monday evening, Polish state news agency PAP reported.

He condemned last week’s decision by a court in Belarus to sentence a Polish-Belarusian journalist and activist Andrzej Poczobut to eight years in “a maximum security penal colony” in what was widely seen as a politically motivated case.

Poczobut was found guilty of "fomenting hatred" and "acting to the detriment of Belarus," news outlets reported.

Kamiński told the state-run TVP Info news channel that it was “a sentence imposed for cultivating Polishness, culture and historical tradition.” 

He added: “Members of the Polish minority are being treated by [Belarusian strongman leader Alexander] Lukashenko as hostages.”

In response to the jailing of Poczobut, Kamiński last week ordered the suspension of traffic at the Polish-Belarusian border crossing in Bobrowniki, from Friday, February 10, until further notice. 

Bobrowniki is one of the main crossing points between Poland and Belarus.

The Polish interior minister announced on Monday that he would apply for more people connected with Lukashenko to be added to sanctions lists.  

Belarus 'won't persecute Poles with impunity'

Kamiński said in the interview that the closing of border crossings “sends a clear message to the Belarusian regime" that it "won’t persecute Poles with impunity.”

He stated: “The things that are happening in Belarus have been filling us with outrage for years. If Belarus continues to take repressive measures against our compatriots, we’ll be taking further action.”

The interior minister added that Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki "made such a declaration" at a European Union summit in Brussels last week.  

Poland has demanded that Belarus free Poczobut and "stop persecuting the Polish minority."

The foreign ministry in Warsaw said it was taking steps, both publicly and behind the scenes, to secure Poczobut’s release, the PAP news agency reported. 

Meanwhile, the European Parliament is set to hold a debate on Lukashenko’s crackdown on the Belarusian opposition to his regime, according to news reports.

The debate will take place at the request of the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) political group, in Strasbourg, France, on Wednesday, officials said.

MEPs are expected to vote on a resolution on the subject in March, reporters were told. 


Source: PAP, 300polityka